Jay Noel is one of my bloggy buddies and though I have yet to meet him in person, I feel like we would get along quite well. We both share a Filipino heritage, a love for steampunk and martial arts—and cookies.
Here’s his author bio:
After doing some freelance writing and editing for more than a dozen years, Jay decided to stop procrastinating and pursue his dream of being a novelist. He’s been blogging for over eight years, and even had a comedy podcast syndicated all over the internet. All of that was fun, but all the steampunk-inspired stories in his head just wouldn’t leave him alone. Jay spends his days working in medical sales, but he can be found toiling over his laptop late at night when all is quiet.
He draws inspiration from all over: H.G. Wells, Jules Verne, Shakespeare, Ray Bradbury, Douglas Adams, and Isaac Asimov.
And Jay loves cookies.
Jay Noel’s website: www.jaynoel.com
Without further ado, I present the unstoppable Jay Noel!
The Unstoppable Jay Noel
1. Tell us three random, unique, or weird facts about yourself.
1. I have the exact same birthday (month, day, year) as actress Alyssa Milano
2. I have a fear of heights
3. I played NCAA Division I tennis
2. What books and movies inspired your love for Sci-Fi or Fantasy? Would you ever consider writing in another genre?
My very first book that I loved as a child was Ma Lien and the Magic Paintbrush, and that started my love of mythology. I also grew up reading H.G. Wells, Jules Verne, Robert Cormier, S.E. Hinton, and Shakespeare. Like most kids born in the 70s, I have to say that Star Wars was a HUGE part of my childhood.
I’d definitely love to write in another genre, as I’m drawn to Young Adult Contemporary books.
3. Are you a full time writer, if not, what is your current occupation? What prompted you to take your writing seriously?
No, I’m not a full time writer. I’m a medical sales rep in the optical industry. It’s fascinating stuff, as I love science and medicine. In 2005, I started writing about the funny and strange side of science, and it rekindled my love for writing. Throughout my life, I had started and stopped…queried and got rejected…and blogging brought me back to it. So in 2011, I decided to change the format of my blog and really dedicate myself to writing.
4. Tell us about your path to publication.
In 2012, I received a contract for Dragonfly Warrior from a small press. It was a monumental victory for me, but alas, things didn’t work out. The publisher shuttered its doors, and I was back into the “query-world.” But I was offered a contract by another small press, and after my manuscript was about 75% done by the editors and getting cover art for my book, the publisher started going through some pretty huge financial issues. So I asked for my rights back (I had contracts for Dragonfly Warrior and its sequel, Shadow Warrior), purchased the cover art from them, and decided to go full-on indie.
It’s been a long road for sure, filled with bumps and bruises, but it was such a learning experience, I have no regrets about my journey to publication.
5. What is the coolest thing about being an indie author?
I mostly enjoy the autonomy that goes along with it. I’m writer first, business owner a close second. Being indie allows me to really experiment with what I do and change things at a moment’s notice if something isn’t working. I love the flexibility and the freedom.
6. Where did you get the idea to write DRAGONFLY WARRIOR?
Back in 2007, I was day dreaming while waiting to visit with a doctor, and a vivid action scene popped into my head. I wondered if I could write a novel around that one little spark of an idea, so I wrote it out. And I knew I had something special.
I wanted to write something different, yet something familiar enough to resonate with readers. I love science fiction and fantasy, so I decided to combine the two. When I first started drafting the novel, I had no idea that there was a word for the genre that I was writing in. When I learned that my story was totally steampunk, it was like seeing the face of Elvis in the desert…it was a huge epiphany. The world opened up, and I was relieved that there was an actual market for what I was writing.
7. The world in DRAGONFLY WARRIOR if full of mythical influences, most notably Asian in nature. What inspired this setting, and how did you go about building this world?
Like I said, world mythology was one of my very first influences, so I drew from the stuff I love: Asian, Greek, Norse, and Arthurian. I wanted to combine all of this, all wrapped up in a steam-powered world at the height of its own industrial age. I wanted to really explore the social and political implications of such a wonderful, yet terrible time in history. The reader will easily catch many of the historical references I make in my alternate version of the 19th century.
There’s enough of the fantastical to call Dragonfly Warrior science-fantasy, but there’s some underlying messages there harkening to the real world.
Dragonfly Warrior is very much an epic story much in the style of the classics I love so much like The Odyssey and King Arthur, but with a strong Asian influence.
8. DRAGONFLY WARRIOR is the first book in your MECHANICA WARS TRILOGY. When do the other two books come out? Do you plan any other books in the world of Zen?
The second book, Shadow Warrior, is scheduled for publication on June 5th of this year. Iron Warrior, the third and final book of this “Warrior Trilogy” will come out before the end of 2014. So yeah, I promise to not make my readers wait too long after reading the first book.
I have plans to write another trilogy set in this world, tentatively titled The Cloud Hugger Chronicles. I’m excited about continuing to push steampunk into the realm of multicultural literature.
9. If you could spend one day with any character in your series, who would it be?
If I could have assurances that I wouldn’t be maimed or killed, I’d love to hang out with the gruff, but likeable pirate Zapitoni. He was supposed to be just a minor character, but all my beta readers LOVED him. So Zapitoni comes back in Shadow Warrior, and he plays an even bigger part in Iron Warrior.
10. If your trilogy were optioned for film which scene from THE DRAGONFLY WARRIOR would you be most interested in seeing live on the big screen?
Wow. Great question. It would have to be when the raiders, led by the renegade Cheng, attack the native tribe’s fortress. I can imagine a steam-powered locomotive just barreling towards the massive wall during the attack. That was so much fun writing, and it’s so visual, that I’d have to see that on the big screen for sure.
11. What’s your typical day as a writer like? Do you have any writing-related rituals or quirks?
Since I don’t write full time, my writing time is regulated to late at night when all is quiet. I often write to music (instrumental only). I enjoy movie scores on Pandora. Helps get me in the mood. The amount of writing I do varies. Sometimes, I’ll pump out a thousand words or more in a day, other times, just a couple hundred. I’m an active participant of NaNoWriMo, and that helps keeps me productive during a very hectic time of year.
12. What do you like to do when you’re not writing? Any hobbies, sports, or crafts you like to spend time on?
I just took up cooking. It’s amazing, because I was the kind of person that feared the kitchen. But I decided to make some big lifestyle changes and improve my health, so I’ve been forced to get in there and prepare my own meals. So these days, I’m always on the hunt for healthy recipes.
After a long hiatus, I would also like to step back onto the tennis court. Although I long to compete, I’d like to play just for fun and to stay active.
I have three kids, so I’m pretty busy with all of their activities too.
13. Are you currently working on any other projects?
Other than my Mechanica Series, I’m also working on a YA paranormal/horror novel with Miranda Hardy. It’s been awesome collaborating with another writer, and we hope to have it published just in time for Halloween.
14. What tips or techniques can you give writers who wish to write in the Steampunk Genre? How about writers who wish to write a series?
I think reading as much as you can in both the classics (H.G. Wells) and the newer stuff (Cherie Priest, Scott Westerfield) will help. What’s great is that the genre is ever-changing and growing. Steampunk is not a fad, and it will continue to evolve – especially beyond Victorian England.
15. What advice would you like to give to writers on the road to publication? What advice would you give to writers who wish to follow the indie path?
I’d say the best advice, other than the typical “keep writing” recommendations, is to grow thicker skin. Rejection and heartache is not fun, but without all that PAIN, I don’t know where I’d be today. So many writers these days take shortcuts, and the self-publishing platforms available make it so easy to just hit publish. Seek beta readers that are NOT your friends and family. Get your work professionally edited. Blow up your manuscript and rebuild it.
This business can be cruel, and I see a lot of writers whine and complain. Whether it’s criticism from a beta reader or negative reviews of their novel, writers just aren’t as “tough” as they used to be. Those who have been able to handle all the years of rejection seem to be more resilient.
It might hurt now, but it will make you better in the end.
Come back this Friday for the final part of the Spotlight Week, where I give away a copy of DRAGONFLY WARRIOR.
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